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Guest opinion: How to run a profitable dealer event weekend

Nick Squire BTC 2015

Event weekends have become common place at many franchised dealers.

By creating a buzz in the showroom and offering incentives such as discounts, potential customers are more inclined to make a purchase, resulting in greater sales and greater profitability for the dealer.

Or that’s the theory at least.

In reality, while many dealers see a jump in sales over the course of an event weekend, a rush to discount often means profitability takes a huge hit. Failure to prepare the sales team and allocate resource to follow-up leads after the event can also mean sales still slip through the net, despite the big occasion.

Here’s some tips for hosting a successful – and profitable – event weekend at your dealership...

Setting the scene

So you’ve set a date for your dealer event weekend and are putting together the finishing touches.

At this stage it’s important to have in mind the planned discounts and incentives that you’ll be offering.

Set a profit target and the level of discount that you’re willing to go to.

It’s extremely important that this is then communicated to all staff ahead of the day itself, to ensure everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.

When it comes to sending the invites out, make sure they’re engaging and don’t fall short when it comes to selling your event.

Invite follow-up calls are a must too, to guarantee the best possible turn-out. It may pay to use an outsourced contact centre at this stage, to help with both the quantity and the quality of the calls.

Sales training

Your sales event is a great opportunity to refresh the sales techniques of your team. Getting professional trainers in will pay dividends when it comes to the profitability of your event, as well as in the long term.

Holding your nerve

When it comes to the big day itself, make sure you stick to that profitable sales price! Often, in a frenzied drive to push sales on the day, prices are repeatedly slashed. While customers will be expecting some discounts, failure to stick to a profitable line can lead to lost opportunities.

Maintaining control

Failure to have enough staff for the big day is another common stumbling block. Having taken the time to invite potential customers it’s important to make sure the sales force is able to convert as much business as possible.

If an event is understaffed, missed opportunities are inevitable and the negative customer experience could also damage future sales.

Event weekends can be a steep learning curves for those who haven’t experienced them before, so it’s wise to make sure all members of staff have been briefed and know what to expect.

Following-up interest

While you’ll inevitably look at how many cars were sold during the duration of the event weekend itself, the hard work doesn’t stop once it’s over. There will no doubt have been customers who attended the event, expressed interest in a car, but were not in a position to close the deal on the day.

Having the ability to contact these key customers afterwards and retrospectively complete additional sales ensures you maximise the profitability and potential of your sales weekend.

Assessing results

An often overlooked step but really important if you plan to run future events. How did the event perform in terms of profitability?

How many of your invitees attended on the day? What was the feedback from customers and your staff?

What could you do better next time, and what worked really well? Do a wrap up meeting with your team to give them feedback.

Author: Nick Squire (pictured), operations manager at automotive consultancy BTC

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